Press Release of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer

For Immediate Release:
April 13, 2006  
Washington D.C. Office (202) 224-3553

Boxer Concerned by Attorney General's Suggestion that the President Can Authorize Wiretaps of Domestic Communications Without a Warrant  

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today sent the following letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales:

April 13, 2006

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dear Attorney General Gonzales:

I am deeply concerned with your recent testimony before the House Judiciary Committee in which you suggested that the President has the authority to wiretap conversations between Americans on U.S. soil without a warrant.

This suggestion is contrary to the President’s own words and, according to everything I know, contrary to U.S. law.

Even when the government has legitimate reasons to wiretap its citizens, we must ensure that our Constitutional checks and balances are followed. No branch of the government or individual is above the law.

In 1972, the Supreme Court held unanimously in U.S. v. United States District Court, 407 U.S. 297, that domestic security surveillance conducted by the Executive Branch without court supervision violated the Fourth Amendment. In his opinion, Justice Powell warned that, “Security surveillances are especially sensitive because of the inherent vagueness of the domestic security concept, the necessarily broad and continuing nature of intelligence gathering, and the temptation to utilize such surveillances to oversee political dissent.”

The President himself said in April of 2004, “Anytime you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, a wiretap requires a court order.” But we learned this statement was false when the New York Times disclosed the existence of the secret NSA domestic surveillance program, under which the President authorized the NSA to wiretap calls between Americans and overseas parties without ever getting warrants.

Now, your statements to the Judiciary Committee leave open the very disturbing possibility that our government is also conducting wiretapping of purely domestic communications without warrants.

On behalf of the millions of Californians I represent, I request that you immediately respond as to whether warrantless surveillance of domestic communications is taking place, and if so, from where you believe this authority is derived.

Mr. Attorney General, my constituents want answers and so do I. I am looking forward to your prompt response.


Barbara Boxer
U.S. Senator